Last week, my husband and I explored Athens City Cemetery (400 Prairieville St) in Athens, Texas. It had been a full day, so we very nearly skipped the graveyard. We were both hot, sweaty and tired, having already spent the day at the nearby Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (photo essay forthcoming!) as well as poking around the town square looking for historical markers.
An emergency stop at a Braum’s Ice Cream shop for a couple of hot fudge sundaes – strictly medicinal, mind you – gave us the second wind we both needed for further explorations.
I’m glad we checked out Athens City Cemetery because it is not only beautifully wooded, with several well-crafted headstones and historical markers, but the light when we arrived was exquisite.
Usually, late afternoon light is yellowy and warm, but for some reason, the late afternoon light at Athens City Cemetery was a soft, cool white.
Imagine, too, the gentle buzzing of cicadas and crickets, accompanying this soft, gauzy lighting. It created such a peaceful feeling. My husband, Larry, noticed it, too.
I told him that if we lived nearby, I’d want to picnic there, or at least read a book in the shade. He agreed, saying, “This is the most beautiful Texas cemetery you’ve found yet.”
Athens City Cemetery is the final resting place for some fairly well-known bluegrass/country musicians such as:
Alton Delmore (1908 – 1964) and his brother Rabon Delmore (1916 – 1952) Known for tunes such as, “The Frozen Girl,” “See that Coon in the Hickory Tree,” and, “Don’t you see that train?” (None of which I’ve heard of before, but the titles are rather intriguing!)
Lionel Alton Delmore (1940 – 2002) This is the aforementioned Alton’s son. He is known for the tunes “Beautiful Brown Eyes” and “Midnight Special”, a (both of which I’ve actually heard of!)
Athens Cemetery also includes the grave of a Major League Baseball player:
Ray Pepper (1905 – 1996) He was an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns.
The most opulent headstones at Athens City Cemetery belong to the Wofford family. Their memorials feature beautifully carved angels and high quality marble. I haven’t yet found out anything about the Woffords, but I am curious to research their history in Athens, Texas.
Early in its history, Athens, Texas used to bill itself as the Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World, so perhaps the Woffords were
Bean Barons. Who knows?
A more recent headstone features an etching of a longhorn cow standing in a field of bluebonnets as you can see in one of the photos. You can’t get much more Texas than that!
Of course, after my recent trip to our local pet cemetery, Smoke Rise Farm here in Azle, Texas, my first thought was that someone had buried a beloved bovine named Rachel.
If you ever visit Athens, Texas, I suggest swinging by Athens City Cemetery – especially in the late afternoon. Not only is it a historical Texas graveyard, but it’s serene and photogenic.